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>> couric: tonight, they put him in the white house, now president obama is trying desperately to win back struggling middle-class americans in a critical election year. i'm katie couric. also tonight, the latest on haiti. as the u.s. army struggles to fix the infrastructure there, preparations are under way for an influx of refugees here. cbs news exposed it: a congressional judge dote the climate summit in copenhagen. now we can tell you how much it cost taxpayers as we followed the money. and steve hartman travels halfway around the world and finds the waltons? >> reporter: four generations. not only under one roof but sharing one bank account. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening,
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everyone. he got the message: it's the economy middle-class voters most worried about. and with critical congressional elections coming up this year, president obama today rolled out a series of proposal designed to show he's on the case. chip reid is at the white house tonight and, chip, this is just the latest example of obama 2.0 reaching out to voters on main street. >> reporter: that's right, katie. the president is at the low point of his presidency right now and today he turned his attention to the middle-class to try to stop his downward slide. >> unfortunately, the middle-class has been under assault for a long time. >> reporter: positioning himself as the defender of average americans, the president today outlined a series of measures to ease their burden. the proposals include nearly doubling the child care tax credit for families making less than $85,000 a year, expanding tax credits to help workers save for retirement, and increasing support for families caring for elderly relatives. the white house says that will help the so-called sandwich
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generation: families struggling to support children and parents at the same time. the measures are not intended to create jobs but to ease the pain. >> the president is waiting for the economy to turn around and in the interim the best that can happen for him is that people see he's on the case, that he's working for them. >> reporter: republicans scoffed at the proposals. house republican leader john boehner: the new measures are a preview of the president's prime time state of the union address this wednesday in which jobs will be at the top of his agenda. critics say "it's about time." a new poll shows the economy and jobs are americans' top priorities, far ahead of health care, which is in eighth place. >> too many americans... >> reporter: the president today insisted his stimulus plan is creating jobs, but polls show most americans don't believe it. one reason may be the sometimes-muddled message coming out of the white house. >> the recovery act saved thousands and thousands of jobs.
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>> a million and a half jobs. >> saved more than two million jobs. >> reporter: the message is also a bit muddled on health care reform. the president still wants to get it through congress but no one's been able to figure out a way to do it. katie? >> couric: won't it have to be far less ambitious now, chip? >> reporter: the message muddled there, too, katie. there are some at the white house and capitol hill who believe they can still ram through the president's plan but there are many democrats on the hill who say no way. it's going to have to be scaled way back. >> couric: chip reid, chip, thanks very much. one reason for the president's shifting gears is voter anger over bailouts. today, general motors interim c.e.o. ed whitacre said g.m. will pay back more than $6-billion in u.s. government loans by june and "interim" is being dropped from his title, he's got the job. meanwhile, andrew hughes tells us today it was deadline for g.m. and chrysler dealers who lost their businesses to file for arbitration. to try to win them back. >> reporter: eight months ago car dealer steve bussjaeger gave
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his sales force a pep talk. it was the day after chrysler went into bankruptcy. >> this is probably the best thing that could have happened. >> reporter: but when chrysler and g.m. went to washington begging for a bailout, the terms of bankruptcy meant dealerships had to close. so this was your show room? >> it was my show room. >> reporter: now it's completely empty. >> it. is. >> reporter: with no explanation bussjaeger was shut down, along with 788 chrysler dealers. g.m. wants 2,000 dealers closed by october. bussjaeger laid off 44 employees and lost about a million dollars. >> i'm still very bitter. very bitter. it's not right what happened. >> reporter: now bussjaeger and others make peace. congress ordered the them to set up an arbitration to reinstate some closed dealerships. >> the first thing would be to show process was perhaps arbitrary or unfair or that perhaps another dealer was "a worse dealer" and didn't get terminated. >> reporter: but from coast to coast, many say they're facing
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impossible odds. >> it's kind of like a little bit of an insult. >> reporter: in new york, former chevy dealer fred derisi says he can't afford to appeal. >> to procure the land and build a new facility it would cost $5 million. >> reporter: bussjaeger estimates he'll spend $100,000 to make his case. even then he doesn't trust chrysler. >> i don't think chrysler wanted to do it at all i. think they feel they had to do it. >> reporter: he could be right, chrysler's c.e.o. said the company they go to court to slam the brakes on arbitration. g.m. likely won't. >> we'll just have to examine this and see the circumstances under which they were terminated. >> reporter: so far, more than 1,300 of those terminated dealers say they'll fight back. sandra hughes, cbs news, glendale, california. >> couric: america's realtors report sales of used homes plunged nearly 17% in december, that's the biggest one-month drop in more than 40 years. the rush to take advantage of a
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tax credit for first-time buyers apparently came to an end. now to haiti, where it's been nearly two weeks since the earthquake. the death toll is estimated at 200,000, and the government says 150,000 people have been buried in mass graves. the canadian government, meanwhile, hosted an international conference in montreal today to start planning the country's recovery. the haitian prime minister was there, he said it could take a generation to rebuild port-au-prince. as bill whitaker tells us, they're taking some steps already. >> reporter: to see crowds growing and pushing outside the u.s. embassy in port-au-prince... >> stop pushing! >> reporter:'d think the biggest job for america's military and diplomats is handling the tears and tempers of people desperate to get to u.s. shores. but their biggest concerns? getting this country that's been knocked to its knees back on its feet. the first order of business: infrastructure repair. >> top five is the port, the
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airfield, the electrical grid, the road system, and the water system as well. >> reporter: the american military built this new control tower at the airport. since sunday, 160 planes land a day instead of 30. it repaired one of the capital's damaged docks. now 150 containers a day unload. suggest first class jason jacot is helping turn the lights back on in port-au-prince. electricity had been down since the quake. are they at zero? >> right now they're at zero but they are making progress. they're going to try to put a transmission line on tonight. >> reporter: then's the massive job of rebuilding. even with private charitable giving at a half billion dollars, there's no end to suffering in sight. just cleaning debris from port-au-prince will take at least a year, then there's housing for the estimated one million homeless haitians. no one is under any illusions. >> the reconstruction of haiti will take years. there's no doubt about that.
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>> reporter: relief agencies have a rush order for 100,000 tents, a temporary solution to get haitians off the streets before the spring rains. katie? >> couric: bill whitaker reporting from port-au-prince tonight. the u.s., of course, has a special bond with haiti. more than a half million haitian immigrants live here,#qoñ many s 125,000 of them illegally. now kelly cobiella tells us communities all across the country are preparing to welcome many more haitian refugees. >> reporter: it's the middle of the school year in florida, but for 13-year-old francesco saih, it's only day two. >> my new friends call me the haiti survivor. >> reporter: francesco is one of seven quake survivors at this massive middle school in western florida. his parents drove across the boarder from haiti to the dominican republic so he could be someplace safe and stable. >> thinking about the earthquake the shock i got, i didn't... i
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really don't want to go back. >> reporter: cash-strapped school districts in south florida have absorbed more than 175 children like francesco, many of whom have u.s. passports or relatives here. how many can you hand? >> as many as we can. has come to us we'll handle it. >> reporter: hundreds? >> yes, i think we would handle it. >> reporter: retired teachers are being asked back and grief counselors are ready to help. the archdiocese of miami is drafting a plan to fly hundreds, perhaps thousands, here. it's called "operation pierre pan" after the "pedro pan" flights in the 1960s when cubans opposed to the revolution sent more than 14,000 of their children to the united states. >> i'm absolutely convinced it's going happen. >> reporter: for now, the archdiocese is trying to help thousands of haitians already in the u.s. as many as 200,000 are expected to apply for temporary protective status, an 18-month reprieve from deportation and a
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permit to work. >> this is glory. this is a glory for all my family. >> reporter: about 30,000 haitians were set to be deported before the earthquake. those people will now be allowed to apply for temporary protective status. katie? >> couric: kelly cobiella in miami tonight. thank you, kelly. by the way, friday's telethon, "hope for haiti now" raised $58 million and pledges continue to come in. by comparison, a similar telethon after 9/11 brought in about $150 million. a benefit for victims of the south asian tsunami raised about $18 million. and a telethon following hurricane katrina $40 million. coming up next here on the "cbs evening news," members of congress went to copenhagen and you got the bill. now we know just how big a bill. we'll follow the money next.
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♪ [ male announcer ] calcium-rich tums goes to work in seconds. ♪ tum-ta-tum-tum, ♪ tums [ male announcer ] nothing works faster than tums. i have a question about these clams. the taste is amazing. clam transfer. clams. are these really fresh-caught clams in your new england clam chowder? we take what the ocean offers, be it clams, camaraderie or heartache. wait, what? i think that was a yes. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. >> couric: earlier this month, sharyl attkisson exposed a congressional judge dote the climate conference in copenhagen, a delegation of more than 100 traveling on your dime. tonight we have a better idea of just how many dimes it cost you. once again, sharyl follows the money. >> reporter: there's new light shed on the copenhagen climate summit in denmark and how much it cost you thanks to recently finaled congressional expense
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reports, official filings and our own investigation show at least 106 people from the house and senate attended. spouses, a doctor, a protocol expert and even a photographer. for 15 democratic and six republican congressmen, food and rooms for two nights cost $4,400 tax dollars each. that's $2,200 a day, more than most americans spend on their monthly mortgage payments. we asked congress and staff about whether they're mindful it's public tax dollars they're spending. many told us they never even see the bills or expense reports. congressman henry waxman is a key climate change player, shown here in copenhagen. last week we asked him about the $2,200 a day bill for room and food. >> i can't believe that. we do believe it but i don't know. >> reporter: but there it is right next to his name in black and white. the group expense report was filed by house speaker nancy pelosi. she wouldn't talk about it when our producer tried to ask.
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>> regarding the copenhagen expense account, madam speaker... >> reporter: her office did give a reason for the high room charges. those who stayed two nights were charged a six-night minimum at the marriott. one staffer says they strongly objected to no avail. you may ask how they'll negotiate a climate treaty if they can't get a better deal on hotel rooms. total hotel, meeting rooms and a couple thousand dollar a night hospitality suites topped $400,000. flights weren't cheap, either. 59 house and senate staff flew commercial during the copenhagen rush. they paid government rates. $5,000 to $10,000 each. add three military jets and the bill tops $1.1 million, not including all the obama administration officials who attended, well over 60. in fairness, many attendees told us they did a lot of hard work and laid the ground work for a future global treaty. >> it was awfully cold and i was there because i thought it was important for me to be there.
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i didn't look at it as a pleasure trip. >> reporter: but considering the size of the deficit and the fact that no global agreement on climate change was reached, critics question the supersized u.s. delegation. more than 165, leaving the impression there's dollars to burn. in this case, more than a million. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, washington. (announcer) a cold or flu can start fast. it can go from a scratchy throat in the morning. to a cough. to a full body ache... at night. new tylenol cold rapid release gels day and night work fast too. they release medicine fast to relieve painful coughs, congestion and sore throats. so you can rest, day and night. feel better, tylenol cold.
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>> couric: in baghdad today, suicide bombers attacked three hotels, killing at least 37 iraqis. officials blame saddam loyalists out to undermine the government. the government has invested heavily in bomb detectors to try to prevent such attacks, but as richard roth tells us, there's new evidence they don't work. >> reporter: if you think the pictures in this promotional video are dramatic, look at the claims made for device it promotes. the a.d.e. 651 is a metal antenna on a plastic handle that uses no batteries or electronics sold as a bomb detector. according to its british distributor, it can point to hidden drugs, guns, or explosives and it will work underwater, underground, or in the air. according to the u.s. military, it's completely useless. >> i can think of no practical
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application for this device beyond party entertainment. >> reporter: yet the iraqi government spent $85 billion for about 2,000 of the so-called bomb detectors and a training program that teaches troops to shuffle their feet to generate static electricity to name things work. now britain has just banned export of the devices and arrested the businessman who's made a fortune selling them. jim mccormick, a former policeman, is accused of fraud but the a.d.e. 651s are defended by iraqi officials who backed their purchase and they're still in use. >> they're fine for fool ago four-year-old at a birthday party, but they're immoral if they're trying to supposedly save lives at a checkpoint. >> reporter: and they're also at checkpoints in beirut and am man jordan, where the bomb detectors guards are using at this five-star hotel may provide no more security than a magic wand. richard roth, cbs news, london. >> couric: an ethiopian jetliner
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crashed off the coast of lebanon. a runway camera shows the 737 taking off from beirut bound for ethiopia's capital. moments later a bright flash, probably the an explosion. lebanese officials say it was not terrorism, but thunderstorms may have been a factor. no survivors have been found. coming up next, everyone in the world has a story, and you'll hear his in a moment. if you have overactive bladder and you worry your pipes might leak (pipe doctor) ask your doctor about treating with vesicare. (pipe woman) then you could treat yourself to a night out with fewer urges or a day with fewer leaks or a trip with fewer overactive bladder problems. (pipe doctor) once daily vesicare can help control your bladder muscle and is proven to reduce frequent, sudden urges and leaks day and night. if you have certain stomach or glaucoma problems, or trouble emptying your bladder, do not take vesicare. tell your doctor right away
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>> couric: you may remember when steve hartman traveled america with the goal of proving that everyone has a story. tonight with the help of space-aged technology steve goes global as he begins a new series "even in the world has a story." >> liftoff of space shuttle "atlantis." >> reporter: when cbs news and nasa launched this project to find three stories that show us who we really are as a planet... >> solid rocket booster separation. >> reporter: ...the first question everyone had was "where on earth do you begin? " to which astronaut jeff williams answered: how about there? his random stab at the globe sending us to india. the tip of his finger falling on a town outside deli delhi.
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by india standards, rewari is a sleepy little town of just a million people. it's far enough off the beaten path that many who live here have never seen an american before. including this gentleman. who never will see one. every morning, 78-year-old khushi ram goyall feels his way to work. before he went blind in his mid-20s, most likely from a parasite, khushi ram was a grade schoolteacher. now he mills wheat into flour grinding out a living of four dollars a day. >> ( translated ): when i realized this problem would not end, i accepted it in a positive way and thought, this is the way got wants me to live. >> reporter: still, imagine being blind, going through old age on a low wage in a country
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like india. got a little hole here. little hole. you'd think that would have to be a hard, lonely life. you'd think. but khushi khushi ram goyal lives quite comfortably. he shares a house with 13 family members who welcomed me like their locke-lost 14th. they kept bring megabread saying "eat just one more piece." then i did and they'd say "eat just one more piece." you said one! khushi ram's oldest son told me "this is how we show our love" then insisted i eat yet another. this is khushi ram's wife. they've been married 57 years. how did you survive in those early years? >> ( translated ): i never saw any problem and was happy to feed our children with whatever little we had. >> reporter: kazmiri says her husband took every job he could get to support their family. he was proud of how far they've come and clearly grateful for
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this opportunity to tell the world. >> she's giving you a blessing. >> reporter: oh, thank you. but what impressed me most of all was how this family gets by today. four generations not only under one roof, but sharing one bank account. the oldest son works as a contractor. another son runs a coffee shop. a grandson sells auto parts and everything goes into one pot. i also couldn't help but notice how there always seemed to be someone watching grandpa. whether he knew it or not, there was always at least one family member just making sure that if he ever did need a hand it would be right there. in another country in another life you might be sort of on your own. >> ( translated ): yes. and i would feel what's the use of having family? if i'm in a bad situation and get shooed away like flies from milk, then really what kind of
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family would that be? >> reporter: in america a lot of parents say the last thing they want is to be a burden on their children. like wise, a lot of kids don't want to be burdened by their parents. too bad we can't all see like the blind man. next monday, an all together different kind of story as our partners in space send me to latvia, the former soviet state. here we found a cold war era story about a secret arms building operation-- and legs building. meet the clandestine bodybuilder next monday night. >> couric: we'll be there. steve hartmann, steve, thanks so much. that's the cbs news. coming up on @katiecouric on cbs news dot krol, the tea party movement. thanks for watching, i'll see you tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs
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>> good evening. tonight in your only local news at 7:00, crittenton charged, the wizards guard makes a plea after accusations of gun play in the locker room. declared dead, 9 news now learned the reviews underway after rescuers found an accident victim breathing after he was declared dead. and manhole explosion. a woman sent to the hospital. traffic side up for hours after the incident along georgia avenue. aim armando trull on georgia avenue. for almost six hours it was closed from dennis to the mill while they had technicians from washington gas, penn pepco while they tried to identify the source and nature of gas that had been detected around 2:00 p.m. earlier a manhole cover blew up seriously inri
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